Today is March 29, 2021
Piano Day is the 88th Day of the Year
Unlike xylophones, which have up to 40 keys, or most woodwind instruments, which have a limited number of keys, pianos have a whopping 88 keys. Each key represents a different note, giving the piano a wide range of sounds.
Have you ever WONDERed why the piano has 88 keys, though? Why not 44? Or 212? Why 88? The answer, as it turns out, has both historical and practical aspects.
The piano got its start as a modification of the harpsichord, which had 60 keys. The first pianos, therefore, usually had 60 keys. 60 keys represented five octaves, since there are 12 notes in an octave.
As more and more pianos were made, composers began to write more music for the piano. It wasn’t long before their compositions took them beyond the five octaves available on pianos at that time. Composers began to work with piano makers to create pianos with more keys, so that they could write new music with a wider range.
Over the course of the history of the piano, you can find many different versions of pianos with many different numbers of keys. By the mid-1800s, pianos had expanded to a full seven octaves.
In the late 1880s, popular piano manufacturer Steinway created the 88-key piano that is the standard today. Other manufacturers followed Steinway’s lead and 88 keys has been the standard ever since.
The 88-key piano features a full seven octaves, plus a few other notes. Why stop at 88 keys? Most composers don’t write music that includes notes beyond those available on the 88-key piano. Plus, notes lower or higher than those on the 88-key piano aren’t easy for the human ear to hear as distinct notes beyond those that already exist.
Today’s modern piano has 52 white keys and 36 black keys. The white keys represent the musical tones A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. The black keys differ from the white keys in that they represent half-step intervals — known as sharps and flats — between various notes. A group of seven white keys and five black keys together make up the 12 notes we call an octave.
As artists tend to do, there are piano makers out there today who are still pushing the boundaries of the piano’s capabilities. Stuart and Sons, an Australian piano manufacturer, now makes a “super” grand piano that features 102 keys, 14 more than the norm.
Could pianos be made with even more keys? The answer is yes, but there are many considerations that weigh against pianos with even more keys. In addition to the fact that the human ear can’t distinguish many of these added notes, pianos with more keys tend to be longer and heavier than normal pianos — and more expensive. For example, a 102-key Stuart and Sons piano can cost as much as $300,000!
For more fun facts visit https://www.wonderopolis.org/
Easter trees makes festive spring decorations
Easter is coming and it’s time to put up the tree. For those thinking right now that trees are for an entirely different Christian holiday, you are both right and wrong. Even though trees may be more widely associated with Christmas, Easter trees are an increasingly popular and festive tradition that trace their roots to Germany.
The Easter tree is known as Ostereierbaum in Germany and is a centuries-old custom. Eggs are hung on outdoor tree branches and bushes or are placed on cut branches displayed inside. While the tradition is traced to Germany, German-influenced locales like Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and the Pennsylvania Dutch region of the United States also are popular places for Easter trees to appear.
For 50 years, one person branched out with his own Ostereierbaum tradition. Volker Kraft decorated an apple tree on his property in the town of Saalfeld, Germany, adding more eggs each year as the tree grew larger. The tradition came to an end in 2015. At one point the tree held 10,000 eggs, all hand-crafted by Kraft and his family. However, a tree in Rostock, Germany held the Guinness World Record for tree with the most eggs – a display of 80,000.
While Easter trees are typically more modest than Kraft’s tree, the displays can be as large or as small as one desires. Many Easter trees consist of a few branches placed in a vase decorated with flowers, ribbons and Easter eggs. Pussy willow branches work well, though any branches can stand in.
When decorating Easter trees, families can use plastic eggs or even real ones. Using a sharp knife or needle, make two small holes in a raw egg. Blow out the inside of the egg until the shell is hollow. Then decorate the egg and thread a ribbon through the holes so it can be hung on the tree. If desired, place sweet Easter treats, such as chocolate eggs or pastel-colored cupcakes, under the Easter tree.
Decorating an outdoor tree also is possible and very visible. It can be a great way to share Easter blessings with others in the community.
March is Credit Education Month
How to begin building a credit history
Credit scores play a significant role in the lives of millions of adults across the globe. A strong credit history can help people secure more borrower-friendly terms on home and auto loans, potentially saving them thousands of dollars.
Credit scores are not typically on the minds of young adults who are years away from purchasing their first homes. However, young adulthood is a great time to begin building a strong credit history. By laying a strong foundation now, young adults can reap significant rewards when they try to finance major purchases, such as cars and homes, down the road.
- Open a credit account. It’s important to begin building credit histories once you’re eligible, as young people with no credit histories may find it hard to get loans or even apartments of their own. Cosigners can help, but loans secured with cosigners won’t do much to improve young people’s credit scores. Borrowers want loan applicants who have shown they can pay their own bills, and length of credit history is one of many variables that are used to determine borrowers’ credit scores. A long history that documents a young person’s track record of paying bills on time is to his or her advantage. Many credit card companies issue credit to applicants as young as 18, so young people should not hesitate to begin exploring their options. The online financial resource NerdWallet notes that young people with no credit history may need to apply for secured credit cards. Unlike more traditional cards, secured cards are backed by upfront cash deposits. However, secured cardholders must still make payments on time and will still incur interest charges if they don’t. These cards can be a great way for young people to begin showing lenders their creditworthiness.
- Apply for an installment loan. Installment loans are another great way for young people to build their credit histories. According to the credit reporting agency Experian, auto loans are among the easiest types of loans to obtain. Young borrowers may need cosigners, though some lenders may not require that. Young people who want to buy new vehicles can avoid leaning on their parents to facilitate their purchases and instead take out an auto loan that requires monthly payments. A track record of making installment loan payments on time and in full is a great way for young people to prove their creditworthiness and improve their credit scores.
- Ask your landlord to help. Young people who rent and pay their rent on time might finally be able to benefit from that. In the past, the only way rent payments were included on credit reports was if tenants were delinquent with their rent payments and subject to lawsuits or were reported to collection agencies. However, Experian recently started to include positive rental payment information in their credit reports. Young people with histories of making rent payments on time can ask their landlords to report their positive payment histories to the credit bureaus.
Strong credit histories can benefit adults from all walks of life. It’s never too early for young adults to begin building their financial reputations.
Pearl River Community College’s Associate Vice President of Student Success Dr. Amy Townsend was recently named a Distinguished College Administrator... read more